11:07 PM Wed 12 Oct 2011 GMT
Melbourne Leisurefest shone through overcast weather to attract another 30,000-plus crowd to its ever-growing display of caravans, RVs, four-wheel-drives and boats at Sandown Racecourse.
Leisurefest patrons defied forecasts of rain to enjoy what turned out to be mild and dry conditions for all but one morning of the four-day expo.
Final numbers are close to the 2009 attendance at just over 32,000, with only the Sunday morning rain deterring some visitors to prevent a new record.
Organised jointly by the Caravan Industry Association of Victoria (CIA), Boating Industry Association of Victoria (BIA) and Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC), Leisurefest was substantially bigger than last year.
CIA chief executive officer Robert Lucas said the generous size of the Sandown site had allowed for an additional 2,000 square metres of displays while retaining ample free parking areas.
'Since Leisurefest expanded to incorporate boats and four-wheel-drives in 2008, it has continued to grow as more and more exhibitors sign up and existing exhibitors expand their space allocations,' he said.
'As for the weather, Melburnians in particular are not put off by a few clouds - they just rug up a bit and enjoy the mild conditions while they have a good, relaxed look at whatever their particular area of interest happens to be.'
Mr Lucas said Leisurefest continued the strong interest in the CIA's shows this year, which reflected the strong demand for caravans, RVs and the related lifestyle.
'When you put together our Caravan and Camping Supershow at Caulfield, plus the Melbourne and Bendigo Leisurefests and our brand new Border RV & Camping Expo at Wodonga, we will have well over 120,000 people visit our shows this year,' he said.
'There was strong interest across all three sectors - boats and four-wheel-drives as well as caravans and RVs - which ensured the overall success of Leisurefest as a large and diverse attraction on the recreational calendar.'
Mr Lucas said there was a strong trend this year to online ticket sales, with many patrons taking up the strongly promoted online discounts, which in turn kept people flowing smoothly through the three entry gates with the minimum of delay.
Leisurefest will return to Sandown from 4 to 7 November 2012.
by Shoemark & King